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USA | Professional internships | J1

San Diego: Where to do your J1, Grad visa or US internship

Stay Classy, San Diego. Our guide to living and working in California’s iconic city by the sea.

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A surfer's paradise with year-round sunshine and a laid-back attitude, San Diego is the quintessential southern California beach city. But San Diego is more than just its perennially happy people, bleached-haired surfers and endless microbreweries. Located just two hours south of LA at the US-Mexico border, it's also diverse and historic – with a growing economy and multicultural outlook. Whether you’re looking for sought-after J1 summer jobs or to grow your career on a 1-year Grad USA visa, sunny San Diego is a hot spot for Irish students and graduates.

Why San Diego

As the birthplace of California and its sunniest city, San Diego proudly celebrates its Mexican heritage and year-round outdoor spaces. Away from the iconic boardwalks and beachfront, the Old Town is a carnival mix of historic haciendas, tequila bars and colourful taquerias. While San Diego’s backyard, Balboa Park, is a 1,200-acre complex of gardens, public spaces, museums, music venues and the city’s famous zoo.

For obvious reasons, San Diego has a huge influx of both domestic and international tourists over the summer months, making it a competitive job and housing market for J1 students. Hands down, our fill of USIT J1 summer jobs in San Diego are the first to go each year – so get in there early and do your accommodation research. For Irish graduates who have the luxury of arriving at other times of the year on their 1-year Grad USA visa, the job and internship market is easier – and extends beyond the hospitality hustle to include positions in technology, business, defence and tourism.

Where to live

Most J1-ers chasing the beach lifestyle will end up living north of the city in places like Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. The Gaslamp District is perhaps the most visited, but each neighbourhood in this growing city offers character, shopping and great food. In the emerging East Village, adjacent to downtown, you'll find restaurants and bars popping up alongside Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team. Some J1 employers will include subsidised accommodation, but these positions are extremely coveted. If your J1 job doesn’t come with housing, check out or the classified sections of the U-T San Diego ( and San Diego Reader (

J1 jobs San Diego

Previous UIST J1-ers in San Diego have worked as surf instructors, office agents, retail associates, tour guides, servers/bussers and hosts. Average salaries for 2023 in San Diego ranged from USD $15-$18/hour. Often including perks such as end of contract bonuses, tips, and staff events/socials. Each year, we have 1,000+ J1 jobs with our tried-and-trusted US employers across America. Book onto J1 early and select ‘USIT Job’ for access to our online Job Hub where you can search, apply and get hired.

Where to work or intern

It may be famous for tacos and surfing, but San Diego is also home to industries including technological research, biotechnology, green energy and IT. Hospitality and tourism are thriving sectors, as are medical research, healthcare, higher education, maritime industries and defence (San Diego is home to one-third of the US Marines).


The San Diego area can be an incredible place to visit almost any time of the year. Spend your J1 or 1-year Grad USA visa basking in some best weather in the USA, with close to 365 days of sunshine. Fluctuations within California's unique microclimates is always a possibility, but you can generally expect mild, sunny weather, in the mid-20s year-round, with higher temperatures inland.

Want to put your career or summer on the US map, but not sure where you can go? Book a call with the USIT team.

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USIT Staff

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, DM us about writing for USIT.

“With its city by the sea feel and eternal sunny disposition, San Diego remains the coveted hot spot for Irish J1-ers.”

USIT Staff Blog Image.png


USIT Staff

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, DM us about writing for USIT.

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